Yesterday, whilst reading my Twitter feeds, someone I follow posted this:
Living a life of great faith is not easy. It’s a battle of the mind continually BUT I have to remind myself to trust God and surrender.
I tweeted him back:
Then if faith is a gift from God…sounds like it’s one I’d want to return.
I’m almost certain my reply was sort of out of left field to this guy since I gave it no context. I mean, it’s Twitter and I should’ve kept my big mouth…er typing…shut. Shut? Stopped? Whatever.
But it did get me thinking. When I was a Pentecostal, specifically in college, my experience of the Christian life was rather heavy on highs and lows. Sure, Christ died to save me from sin, but now it was time to get my butt in gear and SUBMIT to the Spirit…or else! And faith…well, faith is what *I’m* supposed to have. Just as much as a mustard seed…imagine what God could do if only…I’d… Yeah. So then I feel guilty for long stretches with short bursts of feeling like I can measure up because I’ve really given it over to God this time.
But what did it get me? A rat-wheel of good works that were really just me trusting in my own will-power, even though I called it living in the Spirit.
The saddest part, however, is that a great many Christians I’ve met have this same sort of problem in their thinking about God, His will, and our response. Do I need to surrender? Well…if by “surrender,” we mean the biblical category of “repentance,” then yes. But because surrender isn’t the biblical category, it’s hard to grapple with Paul’s testimony to the life of the uncondemned life because we experience sin day after day, hour after hour. And what are we supposed to do with that sin? Surrender it? It’s hard to know what that looks like, unless we talk about it in terms of repentance.
But even repentance isn’t enough. When we talk about sin and repentance, we have to talk about the forgiveness of sins in Christ. After all, the two are inextricably linked by Jesus in Luke 24:47, and it is in this message of our great sin and our Greater Savior that the real freedom to live a life honoring to God can be found.
Are you tired of one crisis experience after another, and another? Repent, turn to Christ, and trust that Christ’s blood covers you, even the Christian. This is the trust of the Gospel. Repent and truly live. As Rod Rosenbladt has said, “Christ died to save sinners–and you qualify.”
So why are we so hesitant to proclaim this good news? Why are we so reticent to give hope to people that is far more substantial than “come on, you can do it!”? Why do significant sectors of the Church preach the Gospel to convert but not as the hope for all men, even the converted ones? Why is it only assumed and not proclaimed as being the final word?
Reader, now it’s your turn. Am I barking up the wrong tree here?